Tag Archives: Panamanian Poetry

A Digger’s Story

Contractor's Hill about 1910.  The breaking down of this massive piece of solid rock was a tremendous and dangerous undertaking and the black, West Indian Silvermen met the challenge.  The image is thanks to the Library of Congress.

Contractor’s Hill about 1910. The breaking down of this massive piece of solid rock was a tremendous and dangerous undertaking and the black, West Indian Silvermen met the challenge. The image is thanks to the Library of Congress.

The poem we are honored to post today is about the memories that many of the Silvermen preferred not to remember, much less recount. But, Louis Emanuel, our friend and resident poet – and chronicler- has a sharp recall for the accounts his grandfather rendered of the perils he and his companions encountered as part of the digging backbone of the Silver Roll work crews in the early construction days of the Panama Canal.  Continue reading

Advertisements

Poetic Tribute to the Silver People – Part 3

gal_panama_crowd

West Indian workers arriving in Panama aboard the “Cristobal.” Image is property of the ACP.

Before we bid farewell to the month of August during this year of remembrance, we wanted to post the last two poems written by our contributing poet, Mr. Louis Emanuel.  They sum up vividly how many of us felt years ago and even today.  As he put it in his message to us, “Many of us can relate to this…” Continue reading

Poetic Tribute to the Silver People – Part 2

This photo is of a derailment at Bas Obispo in 1886- the French Railroad days. Note the Jamaican workers - See more at: http://thesilverpeoplechronicle.com/2007/02/jamaican-workers-on-american.html#sthash.hj31A3gz.dpuf

This photo is of a derailment at Bas Obispo in 1886- the French Railroad days. Note the Jamaican workers.

Here are two more poems by Mr. Louis Emanuel during this period of recognition to our Silver ancestors.

The Train

This railroad was built, many years ago
In the US this idea, was concocted as known
To move gold from west, to northeastern shores
Crisscrossing the isthmus, since then until now.

History recalls, those contractors of yore
Imported Asiatics, as the labour force
Not adapted to the harsh, tropical woes
Many perished, escaped, hid, who knows.

The railroad company, desperate for men
To Jamaica they went, and hired right then
Whom brought this venture, to an early end
The trains are rolling, right round’ the bend.

While awash in nostalgia, I have often recalled
Many miles of tracks, from Colon to Panama
Steam engine in tow, and passenger cars for all.
Thus I ponder, why such things had to pass.

No longer the transport, for many ingots of gold
Nor for our Diggers, from the great ditch, of old
Diesel engines, haul containers, stacked twofold
The leisure cars can be pricey, so I have been told.

**********

An ode to the men, whom came to Panama as the main
labor force to build the world’s seventh wonder, The
Panama Canal. And whilst doing so perished leaving
behind their wives, mothers children, and loved ones.

Sorrows

The land is parched, sugarcane won’t grow
On this island, the economy is very slow
My husband’s earnings, so abysmally low
I am with child, which he is soon to know.

He paces the fields daily, and is very sad
And vies for work, earning whatever he can
Contractor work, in some faraway land
As a last resort, is shrouding his plans.

My darling husband, please do not leave
I am carrying our child, consider my plea
You must be here, when I do conceive
To greet our firstborn, honey, let it be.

One dreary morning, I rush to the dock
Men boarding a ship, waving nonstop
My dearest husband, is amidst the lot
I prayed Lord, please bring them back.

His letters I cherish, so often each month
The earnings sent home, begins to mount
Our child in waiting, soon to be born
The days seems as years, since he’s gone.

Received that letter, on a sad gloomy day
My beloved, will no longer, come my way
He was blown to bits, on Contractor Hill
Dynamite explosion, many Diggers killed.

I screamed, cried out loud, this is not true
He promised to return home, so very soon
Then I prayed, Father in the heavens above
To bless, comfort him, with thy eternal love.

Louis Emanuel

Poetry is Making a Comeback in Panama

At the Book Nook in Colon. Left to right, Dr. Wong Vega, Prof. Rita Wong Lew, Lic. Winston Churchill James, and Prof. Roberto Reid Green.

At the Book Nook in Colon. Left to right, Dr. Wong Vega, Prof. Rita Wong Lew, Lic. Winston Churchill James, and Prof. Roberto Reid Green.

Lately I have been undergoing a cultural revitalization which I, long ago, had lost sight of ever experiencing in Panama. Three events, all coming in the form of poetry readings focused on West Indian Panamanian poets, have re-established my faith in the power of culture to regenerate the best qualities in the human mind. Continue reading

Rapsodia Antillana: West Indian Poetic Voices

Rapsodia Antillana: Selección Bilingüe de Poesía Afroantillana en Panamá.

“Rhapsody: epic poem or singer of epic poems. A literary work written in an exalted or impassioned style.” ……Webster’s dictionary

The heroic figure from Homer’s Odyssey, Odysseus, and his painful but triumphant return to Ithaca, his home, was my inspiration for the title of our blog, Rapsodia Antillana. Since we started the blog back in January of 2007, I have been somewhat enraptured with attempting to convey my passion and my joy in expressing the spirit of my people, the Panamanian West Indians and their story. Continue reading